In 2016, Gediminas Surna and Mindaugas Skackovas started timber import/export company to fill what they saw as a void in the market. In 2017 they began manufacturing company. Today Arbor Garden Solutions has grown from a two-person start-up to a 32,000 sq feet manufacturing facility with over 45 employees based in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. Arbor Garden Solutions Ltd now is one of the fastest-growing garden furniture and industrial wooden workbench manufacturing firms. The company backed by a highly-skilled team of craftsmen who work together to produce a variety of top quality bespoke and standard furniture.
WHAT PROVED TO BE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE STARTING YOUR BUSINESS?
Rapid business growth was our main challenge throughout all 4 years. We had not enough space to work efficiently, exceedingly long hours (during peak times we both literary were sleeping at work!). So, we had to control our growth and turn away a lot of business. But I think it is a nice problem to have?
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CAREER BACKGROUNDS?
Gediminas: I came to the UK 9 years ago. My first job was at Amazon as an agency representative. I excelled in my role and been promoted to Agency manager and later to Senior agency manager, where the main job was to make sure that agency employees are meeting customer (Amazon) level of expectations. Back in Lithuania, I worked as a regional sales operation manager.
Mindaugas: I came to the UK 5 years ago. My first job was as a Logistics manager. Back in Lithuania, I worked at Siauliai international Airport as a ground operation manager.
How do you think life in the new country aided your personal development?
Besides enhancing new languages and communication skills, working in a new country fostered intercultural competence such as a global mindset and cultural intelligence. Also, working in a new country has made us realise that there are many ways of viewing the same issue, none of which is definitively better than another.
What was the most challenging settling in the new environment?
Well, we didn’t have any significant challenges, to be honest. A lot of friends were living in our area, so more or less we felt like home straight away.
Which personal or national trait helps you most in adapting to the new work and social milieu?
We both are extraverts, and we believe this helped us most. We thrive off being around other people, also getting energised when around other people. Or maybe, we are just energy vampires?
Highlights of your business journey so far?
It’s been one hell of a ride.
Key lessons you have learned along the way?
Check your ego at the door. If you let your ego get in the way, you will never learn from your mistakes. You need to be open to change and to accept the fact that you do not know everything. And most importantly, you need to accept that it is ok not to be the smartest person in the room. Business is a team game.
What do you do for self and business development?
We are trying to promote healthy habits. For example, any employee who does not smoke has an extra half an hour pay a day (overtime rate). Also, we are emphasising on continuing education and any employee who’s going to college or taking courses to improve their English we are covering for the time lost, if studies are during the working shift. As Richard Branson said “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
The best piece of advice you have received?
Everything you need to know to be successful will be caught, not taught. The most profitable success lessons we’ve learned came not from an instructor, professor, or teacher, but from experts quietly going about their business.
Your top productivity tools that help you achieve your goals?
Morning coffee with the team and discussion what to do next.
Where to next - what is your brand vision?
In the next 3-5 years, we would like to expand into other markets (Germany, France, Spain). Oh, and we are planning to become the biggest garden furniture and wooden workbench manufacturer in the UK.
When we are not working...
Gediminas: spending time with family and reading if I have any time left.
Mindaugas: spending time with family and going to the gym. And we are both, during our free time we are always looking for new opportunities to invest in new business.
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